Call into the Dessert
This past January while on retreat in the Sonoran Desert, I and another community sister walked daily into the arid region with the intention of meeting the Divine in nature.
As we were silently walking, I noticed only the sound of my breath, my own footsteps in the sand, and birds chirping in the area. My mind began to quiet down and I began to pay attention to the abundant beauty that surrounded us. As we walked for an extended period of time, I noticed that we began to slow down the pace and take pauses to rest due to the sun and heat. It became a natural contemplative rhythm.
On one of our hikes we were unexpectedly visited by two coyotes and later by two mule deer. When animals appeared surprisingly, we simply stopped in silence and waited to see what would happen next. I became aware that initially I held my breath and my heart beat faster as the wild animals came closer to us. During this encounter I applied the intention of peace by sending nonviolent thoughts while I simply observed. It was a practice of being, a “Oneness” in the moment.
Another day we took a very long walk for several hours. As the sun was beginning to set, we were about 40 minutes away to our retreat destination. I was getting exhausted. I had to stay centered on the task by putting one foot in front of the other. It was a practice in living in the NOW moment.
All of these walks in the desert were spiritual practices which lead to opportunities of conversion, a chance to meet the Divine in the action. A real contemplative retreat practice for a Franciscan.
I am sharing these desert experiences as instances of how the Divine can transform us. Yes, Lent is coming upon us. It is a time to make a conscious choice to seek out solitude in order to examine one’s life, to simplify and to let go.
May your soul hear that call to the desert this coming Lent.
Sr. Alana Gorski
To read past messages, please click Archived Messages.